by Mike Fairbrass - Monday November 26, 2018 5:11 pm
1B Southwark Street, London SE1 1RQ yenburger.co.uk
Can we stomach the idea of an Asian burger joint? Mike finds out.
I’m at Borough market in London with the family and we’re hungry.
The market food is good, but opposite is a new food offering we’re here to try. As we approach, I see two Asian guys flipping burgers on a griddle behind the large windows - interesting.
Yenburger is the newest venture from young female foodie entrepreneur Yen Nguyen. It seems inviting as we step inside, full of diners on box stools at simple plywood tables all tucking in, fortunately there is more space downstairs.
There we find more light wood, a pink blossom festooned bar, black and gold murals and pink neon. My teen daughter loves the décor.
The menu is simple and in seconds my son decides he wants the Halloumi with Mango Mayo and the 100% Wagyu beef Yenburger with smoked turkey bacon and cheese.
I go for Chicken Gyoza and The Classic: 100% Aberdeen Black Angus beef with cheese – where else can you get those together?
My wife ever the healthier one considers the sustainable cod with homemade tartar sauce or the all veggie with portobello mushroom but changes her mind at the last minute (again as ever) to the Tofu burger with grilled aubergine and Asian slaw.
Daughter likes the sound of the Coconut Panko Chicken or surf and turf with beef patty and prawns, but follows her brother’s burger choice in the end but with homemade sweet-potato fries.
Rap (or is it R+B?) music bubbles along in the background to add to the mix as we wait for our food. Daughter recognises the artist but I’d rather hear Japanese strings and American banjos, so as not to add yet more global influences to the fusion.
I scan the drinks menu to see what spice-infused Cocktails I’m missing out on – various concoctions beckon with Kumquat, mint or lychee, but that’s for the evening when I imagine the music gets turned up, the lighting goes down and the families vacate.
The food is great. Halloumi in Jenga style blocks is soft but not squeaky, the Gyoza are crispy fried and tasty, then the burgers arrive hot on their heels.
The yielding buns are made by Bread Ahead bakery (gluten free option available) and the fusion of steamed bun and burger bap delivers and the Yen logo is branded on the top.
The freshly made burgers nestled inside are sensational, with crunchy red onion, Shiso leaves, kimchi mayonnaise, Japanese chilli (and whatever ‘Yen sauce’ is), all adding to the experience.
We’re all quickly full so no dessert reviewing here, but you can get Mochi Ice cream or dessert of the day if you have room but I doubt you will.
Good luck to Yen and her East-meets-West mash-up of Asian and burgers. It might sound frivolous but it works well in an easy going and unforced way.
The building is on the site of a former curry house, home of the original East/West fusion food. That managed to catch on pretty well, so I hope to see her quality burgers competing on the high street with the red-branded varieties soon.
Hers are more expensive, of course, but you get what you pay for and they’re good value at under a tenner. We leave satiated and ready to face the autumnal Borough breeze.